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Olympic Broil Owner Criticizes Construction Blocking Entrance

Olympic Broil construction photo
Scott Pohl
Bridge construction in front of Olympic Broil has shut down the entrance, forcing a detour through an adjacent parking lot.

A Lansing restaurant is facing a lengthy period of time with an entrance and exit closed by a bridge construction project.

Olympic Broil is on North Grand River Avenue on Lansing’s north side. Like most restaurants, the coronavirus pandemic over the past year has been difficult to survive.

Their indoor dining area remains closed, but owner Mike Alexander hopes drive through business will keep them going.

This week, Grand River Avenue bridge work began in front of the restaurant.

The closure forced Alexander to improvise a route through the parking lot next door. Still, some customers found their usual route to Olympic Broil impassible, and Alexander fears they won’t be back. “Unfortunately, how do you unring a bell?", Alexander wonders. "People now know that going to Olympic Broil is a hassle. Why bother? I’ll just wait. And then they’ll forget the place. Do you see what I mean?”

Alexander says the city has told him the project will last 35 days, but he is quick to add that he thinks their track record “is not good.”

In the meantime, the city has put up some signage in the area, and cones are set up to regulate traffic in and out via Willow Street.

Outside, several customers seemed okay with what it took to grab lunch. Jesus Cuellar says “it worked out pretty good for me to find and everything. It wasn’t that hard at all, not at all, so it wasn’t stressful for me at all.” Customer Sue Tice describes the setup as "pretty well marked out.” Audry Madar says she knew about the construction issues, but came anyway 'because I’m hungry!”

Still, owner Mike Alexander thinks he has cause for concern. Even without traffic obstructions, several Lansing restaurants have shuttered due to the pandemic. “So for me, it’s really disheartening," Alexander concludes. "I spent a lifetime building this business, building up the clientele, and I don’t have another life to build it up again.”

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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